This is a big draft for the Eagles

Watching Donovan McNabb address the media Tuesday in Washington as a member of the Redskins, one thing became very, very clear.

It’s the beginning of a new era in Philadelphia.

With the exception of kicker David Akers, not a single starter from the 2005 Super Bowl team is still on the roster.

Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Jevon Kearse, Jon Runyan and now McNabb are all gone.

Pro Bowlers, team captains, Philadelphia favorites.

All gone.

McNabb said it best during his press conference: “They say they’re going young. I never knew 33 was old.”

The Eagles are going young, indeed.

The average age of Philadelphia’s starting offense is now 25 years old. It’s a little tougher to figure out the average age of the starting unit on defense because there are several positions (cornerback, safety, linebacker) that are a long way from being decided.

But as the Birds begin to reload and get ready to make another run at the Vince Lombardi Trophy, you can bet Easter Sunday 2010 will be remembered for a long time in Philly.

When McNabb left, we weren’t just watching a six-time Pro Bowler exit the building. We were also watching the city’s biggest scapegoat join a division rival.

When things go south in Philadelphia in the future, McNabb won’t be there to take the blame. Instead, that honored distinction will fall on head coach Andy Reid and the Eagles front office.

Philly fans are tough. Do them right (like the Phillies) and you’ll lead the league in attendance. Do them wrong and you’ll feel their wrath.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

It’s no secret that expectations will be a little lower on Broad Street next season as three-year veteran Kevin Kolb takes over the offense. Unlike the last several years, Eagles fans won’t be expecting a run at a championship.

But years two, three and four of the Kolb era won’t bring the same level of patience. Fans will expect a winner, and they’ll continue to grumble until that elusive Lombardi Trophy is paraded down Broad Street.

With 11 picks (five of which are in the top 87, three in the top 55) in what’s considered one of the most talent-rich NFL drafts in recent memory, the Birds need to come away with a big haul.

It’s not that the team is short on talent — far from it. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Jason Peters, Brent Celek, Asante Samuel and Trent Cole make up an outstanding nucleus.

But that’s not to say the Birds don’t have a few holes that could use plugging. The linebacker unit was below average in 2009, the secondary is a big question mark, and you can never have enough offensive and defensive linemen.

I’ve never claimed to be a draft expert, but I’ve watched this class play football. I’ve watched and talked to them in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl, in Indianapolis at the combine and on Saturdays during the college football season.

Several of these young men are going to make a big-time impact at the next level.

Which is why it’s imperative that the Eagles land at least a few future, reliable starters from this talent pool.

Because if this class is a dud for the Birds, and the Kevin Kolb era doesn’t go as planned in the first three seasons, you can bet the fans of Philadelphia will look back at Easter Sunday 2010 with anger.

That’s because nobody wants to trade away a franchise quarterback for the next Freddie Mitchell.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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